Sponsored Ad:
Results 1 to 8 of 8

Thread: PhD in Accounting at a Top School - Math Class Strategy Needed

  1. #1
    Trying to make mom and pop proud
    Join Date
    Oct 2015
    Posts
    4
    Rep Power
    5


    Good post? Yes | No

    PhD in Accounting at a Top School - Math Class Strategy Needed

    Sponsored Ad:
    Hi all,

    I've done a lot of research on pursuing an accounting PhD and have a general idea of the admissions requirements and career path, but I'd appreciate some advice for my specific situation.

    I graduated from a small state school with a near-perfect GPA in accounting undergrad and in my Masters in Accounting program. I have roughly two years work experience at a Big 4 and am a licensed CPA (currently transitioning out of the Big 4 and looking at next steps).

    I was initially interested in pursuing a PhD in economics, but I've heard that I'd face much tougher competition in getting into a top school, and that new economics professors make only a fraction of what accounting professors do (if they can even find tenure-track academic jobs). As such, I've been told to do an accounting PhD, get a job at a top school and then research economics-related areas.

    I know I'll need a lot of math, and more if I'm applying to the top schools. Although I'm confident I can do the work, I would need/want to start out at the entry level of college math, since as an undergrad I only took business calc ansd business stats. Would it be possible to fill a full-time academic schedule with the prep classes I need? It seems like I could take Calc I and maybe Stats I or Probability, but the rest of the calc sequence and certainly differential equations, linear algebra, real analysis, etc. all seem like they need to be taken sequentially. Are there any econometrics courses or intermediate Economics courses that might be worth taking with Calc I? Could I volunteer as a research assistant to bulk up my PhD application (and figure out if it's even for me)? Or is it best if I transition into a corporate accounting role and take math classes part time? Another option I see is taking online, self-paced classes at somewhere like UIUC (https://netmath.illinois.edu/college) where I could focus on each calc class full-time and finish it as quickly as I can complete the homework and tests.

    Depending on my schedule, would I want to get my application in by January 2017 or January 2018 for the following autumn?

    As for target schools, I'm wondering if it's best to try to get into a top school where I might make $250k starting out due to the shortage of accounting professors. As a new professor at a less competitive school, would I expect to make much less and publish in lesser journals or work in a less intellectual environment? Money and prestige aren't my primary focus, but I would like to get an idea of what separates the top schools from the rest (since all send their grads to the Big 4 I assume).

  2. #2
    An Urch Guru Pundit Swami Sage
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Posts
    1,298
    Rep Power
    14


    Good post? Yes | No

    Re: PhD in Accounting at a Top School - Math Class Strategy Needed

    Quote Originally Posted by erc View Post

    I was initially interested in pursuing a PhD in economics, but I've heard that I'd face much tougher competition in getting into a top school, and that new economics professors make only a fraction of what accounting professors do. As such, I've been told to do an accounting PhD, get a job at a top school and then research economics-related areas.
    I will address your other questions, but I wanted to get to this first. This is a very bad strategy long term. It is quite possible that you will find accounting topics that you are interested in and do fine accounting research, but it is a bad idea to plan on getting an accounting PhD in order to do econ research that isn't accounting focused. There are lots of areas in accounting and probably broader questions can be asked than you realize, but do not do an accounting PhD planning on publishing in AER, QJE, etc.

    Now, a near perfect GPA at a state school is a good thing. Is this a state school that has an accounting PhD program? Do you know who the top researchers are there? Is it a teaching or research school? These differences matter.

    It sounds like you want to put a couple years of prep in in order to get into a top school. If your alma mater is a research university and you have good connections there, you may be able to get some sort of gig as a research assistant while taking extra classes. This would be a great way to spend your time. The problem is that with just an accounting undergrad and a MACC, you aren't much good as an assistant because you likely can't program anything and you don't understand the economics stuff that well. So you can do data collection from company filings or things like that. You may also make a good TA. This would keep you in the University environment, but not do too much good for you as far as admissions go.

    I think it is unlikely that you will be able to fill a schedule with useful classes and you may be overestimating the amount of math that you should really do. Unless you want to do theory work, calc 1-3 and linear algebra is enough for most schools. i.e. I know someone that got into Wharton with that math, a finance undergrad, and an MBA. Calc 1-3 need to be taken sequentially and linear algebra can be thrown in there at the same time as 2 or 3 depending on the school. Math stats and probability require multivariate integration, which is a calc 3 topic, so they usually have to come after calc 3. You should be able to take some sort of intro econometrics without calculus, but the calc based stuff is good and at the PhD level you do measure theory things which still hurt my brain. So, as far as math goes, you are probably better off trying to get calc and linear algebra done part time in the next year. Switching to corporate would help with this. You probably also want at least intermediate microeconomics. Business calc should have you prepared for this at most colleges. You will likely need to do partial differentiation, but that is easy to learn if you forgot it.

    Volunteering as an RA is a good idea, but it will likely be data collection and clean up, which isn't the fun part of the job. If you are still near a research university you should seriously consider sitting in on a seminar and attending the workshops. This will give you a better idea of what you are getting into than anything else and provide great background. It will help you select schools you want to go to, define research interests, earn good letters, etc.

    As for targets. R1 universities don't vary too much in pay, and a lot of state schools are in much cheaper areas than the top private schools. I am at a big state school and we have placed students making over 200 base since I have been here. The low end of what you can really expect is like 150 if you get a placement at a more teaching heavy school. I don't think there is as big of a separation as you are envisioning. I also had an offer from a top private B-School and the research environment is just as good here, if not better. The real line you should look at is teaching vs. research schools. So basically, you should apply to places where people are doing research that you are interested in. I can answer more questions on this if you give a little more detail, I just don't want to write an essay write now.

  3. #3
    An Urch Guru Pundit Swami Sage
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Posts
    1,298
    Rep Power
    14


    Good post? Yes | No

    Re: PhD in Accounting at a Top School - Math Class Strategy Needed


  4. #4
    Trying to make mom and pop proud
    Join Date
    Oct 2015
    Posts
    4
    Rep Power
    5


    Good post? Yes | No

    Re: PhD in Accounting at a Top School - Math Class Strategy Needed

    Thanks so much for all of the information, YaSvoboden!

    My school was definitely teaching focused rather than research focused, although there was still a bit of both (my school as a whole is listed as R2 in general on Wikipedia if I'm looking at this right - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_o..._United_States). The business school did have a PhD program, but there wasn't a PhD option in accounting (even though our school put major resources into accounting and seemed to specialize in it, at least in terms of placing graduates). It was my impression that you'd have to be an exceptional student to get a big-name job if you didn't major in accounting. And my dean spoke of new professors getting 125k+, although I'm not sure if this was accounting or in general. We also had students in my accounting masters and undergrad program who were RAs and TAs, pulled numbers from financials, translated foreign financials (from foreign languages, not numerical currency translation), etc. One (at least) I believe taught classes.

    My school did have researchers who published and taught only one or two classes a semester, though. Other professors seemed to get tenure and stop publishing. I would definitely prefer to work at a research university. The research that could see myself pursuing tended to touch on the intersection between accounting issues and macroeconomics and public policy. This and my experience in public accounting made me want to pursue economics. I know I have a strong affinity for academic accounting - I did outstanding in my program and loved it then, did outstanding on the CPA exam and enjoyed it as much as you could enjoy studying for the CPA exam, I honestly just lost all desire to pursue accounting as a career after a couple years at the Big 4.

    The top researcher (in my view) at my school came from one of the top accounting schools in the country but ironically didn't seem to have much pull in the college despite his seniority and the fact that only he published in the top 3 accounting journals. I may be able to work with him - he liked me but we just had a summer stats class together - I don't think enough exposure to demonstrate research potential (unless my other professors spoke well of me, which I'd imagine could have happened).

    Do you think a stable career as an econ academic could be reasonably assured? I've heard that research jobs at top universities are hard to get in econ, that they start at 75k (similar to the high end of what jobs I might be looking at now pay) and that top schools wouldn't value my accounting credentials. The only saving grace seems to be the potential to love what I do and make an impact, but if that's an uphill climb maybe accounting would be better. Maybe I could apply to both PhD programs and see? I'm in a great city nearby lots of universities that I could visit for information on their PhD programs - just not sure how to go about it. Would you be able to point me to a listing, or would I want to contact the schools directly?

  5. #5
    Trying to make mom and pop proud
    Join Date
    Oct 2015
    Posts
    4
    Rep Power
    5


    Good post? Yes | No

    Re: PhD in Accounting at a Top School - Math Class Strategy Needed

    Quote Originally Posted by YaSvoboden View Post
    This does look pretty cool - would I just take calc and stats and then use this as a credential to apply to econ PhD programs?

  6. #6
    An Urch Guru Pundit Swami Sage
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Posts
    1,298
    Rep Power
    14


    Good post? Yes | No

    Re: PhD in Accounting at a Top School - Math Class Strategy Needed

    For econ programs you would need to do a solid 2 years of school to be competitive at top 50 programs. You can check the econ forum on here for that. The pay difference is real, but I think top schools start assistant econ profs over 100k. 75k is probably from a more teaching oriented school. More than the pay difference is the probability of landing in academia. It's pretty much guaranteed out of an accounting phd, but it is definitely not out of econ.

    I should point out that accounting academics are largely applied economists. Look at Panos patatoukas and yaniv konchitchki at Berkeley. Macro econ and accounting information is a developing area. Your description of undergrad and the CPA exam make me think you would enjoy accounting research.

    I would need the city that you are in to point you anywhere, but basically just look at the phd program director and contact them. See if you can participate in a seminar or attend workshops.

    If you really want to do macro econ and not accounting, do that. However, I wouldn't apply to both. If you tell accounting programs that you are applying to econ I think it would hurt your chances and the level of schools that are in your range is likely so different. Also, have you taken the gmat? You will want to do very well.

    It isn't that econ programs are more selective than accounting phds, but your current set of skills is way better for accounting. Your lack of math indicates that you couldn't really understand how much you like academic economics at this point anyway.

  7. #7
    Trying to make mom and pop proud
    Join Date
    Oct 2015
    Posts
    4
    Rep Power
    5


    Good post? Yes | No

    Re: PhD in Accounting at a Top School - Math Class Strategy Needed

    Applied economics is definitely an interesting way to look at it. I'll take a look at Panos patatoukas and yaniv konchitchki - maybe maco econ and accounting information is for me. I haven't taken the GMAT yet - is there any source you recommend to study from? As I understand it's a matter of perfecting high school math, so maybe it would be beneficial to take the GMAT before calculus as a refresher? I'm looking at Khan Academy now and it's redirecting me to Algebra I and II anyway.

  8. #8
    An Urch Guru Pundit Swami Sage
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Posts
    1,298
    Rep Power
    14


    Good post? Yes | No

    Re: PhD in Accounting at a Top School - Math Class Strategy Needed

    Khan academy is great. The gmat is high school math, but a certain familiarity with higher level thinking is necessary to do well. If you take practice tests and consistently get 50-51 on the quant section, then I would go ahead and take the test. Otherwise you will do better if you just wait and improve your quant skills going through the math classes.

    I am surprised I haven't really mentioned an econ master's. If you did the prep to get into an econ master's, then did it full time and really wanted to do am econ phd, then you would be in ok shape to do it and have a better idea of what you are getting in to. If you did it somewhere that you could check out accounting research as well then you would be able to choose between the two and an econ master's will help a lot in admissions. This is a long path though. You probably couldn't start one until 2017 and then a phd program in 2019.

Thread Information

Users Browsing this Thread

There are currently 1 users browsing this thread. (0 members and 1 guests)

Similar Threads

  1. Replies: 2
    Last Post: 09-15-2014, 06:40 PM
  2. Defining Top 10 vs Top 50 Accounting PhD Programs?
    By John M in forum PhD in Business
    Replies: 0
    Last Post: 12-04-2013, 03:40 AM
  3. Top 10 best financial accounting PhD programs
    By noidea in forum PhD in Business
    Replies: 10
    Last Post: 11-27-2013, 02:25 AM
  4. Replies: 4
    Last Post: 12-28-2011, 01:44 AM
  5. Replies: 25
    Last Post: 05-25-2008, 07:59 PM

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •